Written by 10:49 am Review, Santa Ana, The Larking House Theatre Company, Theater, Uncategorized

The Larking House presents: Parts & Pieces @ Wayward Artist – Review


Written by Alina Mae Wilson

I went to the Wayward Artist in Santa Ana to watch Parts & Pieces by Amy Tofte. It was closing night. This is a shame because a story this rich and with actors, this invested deserved a longer run. A stimulating and frequently comedic venture into the perspectives of two siblings and their absurdly funny mediator, Parts & Pieces, had me fully prepared for a second viewing.

Our story begins with siblings Mel and Parker (played respectively by Rani Alina Shori and Sidney Aaron Aptaker). The pair are meeting to discuss financial matters after the passing of their mother. Both have some deep-rooted feelings of pain and bitterness. Still, with the aid of a quirky yet caring conflict mediator named Kipper (played by Genevieve Kauper), the two seek to heal their relationship and the raw turmoil beneath it.

Set and Movement:

The set itself was simple–the only furniture being two chairs, a bench, and a small table. Yet refreshingly, the actors took full advantage of their present space. Too often, actors seem rooted to the spot, engaging in back-and-forth dialogues that are simultaneously realistic and dull. In Parts & Pieces, the actors move and interact in a way that makes you wonder what will happen next. Much of this was due to Kipper’s random zipping from space to another (both physical and verbal). Kipper’s intentional goofiness and glee bring much-needed energy from the moment of her arrival. Kauper might have been playing the stage version of a manic pixie dream girl, but her compassion and good nature shone through every ridiculous joke. Furthermore, the character knew precisely when to be serious and when to laugh. I wish she were MY conflict mediator.

Story and Acting:

The story and acting were a pleasure to witness. The plot tackled many sensitive issues and dared to consider multiple people’s perspectives. Why does Mel feel so strongly about Parker’s transition to a more authentic self? Why does Parker feel so much heartbreak? Why is Kipper so invested in this case? In a world filled with people so willing to shut each other down and out, having a skilled mediator say, “It’s not your turn to speak. Be quiet” (paraphrasing Kipper’s sentiments, not word for word) to BOTH SIDES, in turn, is more valuable than we give it credit for. This play has some intense subject matte,r and it’s necessary to be able to laugh from time to time, and Kauper succeeded in bringing the laughter.

Perhaps a tad too ambitious at times—in 90 minutes, they tackled: adoption, sibling rivalries, gender transitions, sexism, sexual assault, cancer, the death of a parent, body dysmorphia, and possibly more I’m forgetting—but ultimately, the material was rich in content, and it kept the audience laughing.

8.5 Overall
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Feb 2 – 5, 2023

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